It’s a refreshingly unapologetic and candid film navigating the intricacies of relationships between three generations of women. It’s called “Grandma” and it arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital February 9 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. So what’s the big fuss? Lily Tomlin. Written and directed by Oscar nominee Paul Weitz, the film brings Tomlin back to the big screen as a leading lady in this humorous portrayal of feisty grandma Elle Reid. Grandma has just gotten through breaking up with her girlfriend when her granddaughter Sage unexpectedly shows up needing $600 before sundown. Temporarily broke, Grandma Elle and Sage spend the day trying to get their hands on the cash, as their unannounced visits to old friends and flames end up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets.
Tomlin’s portrayal in the film earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy. (She lost to Jennifer Lawrence for “Joy.” Of note: The 76-year-old actress was nominated in not just one, but two categories, at the Golden Globes ceremony. The second nomination was in the leading actress category for Grandma and the leading actress TV series category for Grace & Frankie. She lost to Rachel Bloom for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”) Rounding out the talented ensemble cast are Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox and the still hunky Sam Elliott.
Yes, it bothers Lily that she lost. Twice. “Yeah, it does have an impact because all the people around you are involved in the same project. They’re invested in the outcome. I think if there’s any reluctance, it’s because you have to have something to wear. You have to figure out what you’re going to wear, and there’s a dozen parties and things you have to go to. And I just think, “Oh my God, what can I come up with? I’m not going to come up with something that’s going to get me by the observing group, without them saying, ‘What in the hell is she thinking of?’”—like we used to do in Detroit.”
Tomlin loved playing Grandma: “I feel great about playing Grandma—I love it because it’s ironic that I’m playing a grandmother who’s whatever I am, which is in my seventies, but I’m assertive and I have my own opinions and all that stuff. I’m not just sitting quietly in a corner as my grand kids throw lighted matches at me, or something.”
Grandma is a lesbian; so is Tomlin. How does she about the state of the LGBT narrative in mainstream cinema and television?
“I understand that proportionally, there seems to be a glut of product in television and film at the moment. In some ways, you just hope that’s part of a progression. In my case, Grandma isn’t predicated on her being a gay character—it’s about all the stuff around that. You hope that all those films that get made just roll into other, more accepted portrayals of gay characters—that they become a part of the landscape. I guess to make an impact, you have to have a concentration—a preponderance of the theme. I don’t think they can easily take all that away from us, but I do think you have to be vigilant. God knows where everything’s heading. If you get the right combo of forces in power that support one another, that could come to an appropriate ending.”
“Grandma” been a film festival favorite, premiering at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival as the closing night film, with additional screenings at the 2015 Tribeca and Los Angeles Film Festivals. Tomlin received a Gotham Award nomination for Best Actress for her role in the film as well as a Critic’s Choice Award nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy. “The New York Times” hailed the film saying, “There is much to praise about this sweet, smart comedy of intergenerational conflict and solidarity…. but honestly, the wonder that is Grandma can be summed up in two words: Lily Tomlin.”
The Blu-ray, DVD & Digital releases of the flick includes “A Family Portrait: The Making of ‘Grandma,’” and a Q&A with Lily Tomlin, Sam Elliott and director Paul Weitz.